"I am training with Meng Wang in my head everytime I am doing starts. Everytime I am doing flying laps Meng Wang is in my head because I want to follow her and I want to pass her," St-Gelais told Reuters.
Wang, who won the 500 metres gold medal at the 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver Games, being sidelined by an ankle injury "changes everything," St-Gelais said.
The 23-year-old native of Roberval, Quebec, unexpectedly grabbed a silver medal as a youngster just behind Wang in the 500m in Vancouver and has dreamed since of climbing one-step higher on the podium.
China's next-best women Fan Kexin, Italy's Arianna Fontana and South Korea's Park Seung-hi are just a few of the other contenders vying for the 500m prize.
Despite Wang's absence putting St-Gelais closer to that goal, St-Gelais is disappointed not to go up against her.
"Honestly, I am sad about it," said St-Gelais, who is also competing in the 1,500m, 1,000m and 3,000m relay.
"For me if I win the gold medal, the first question will be, 'yes, I won but Meng Wang was not there,'" she said.
"The race is going to be different and the race will be a little bit slower."
Spectators are also likely to see more skaters attempt hair-raising passes during the all-out sprint, she added, opening up the possibility of crashes and even more chances for upheaval in the famously unpredictable sport.
"More passes because when you are following Meng Wang it is so hard to do passes because the races are so fast," she said.
"We'll see, but unfortunately the race won't be the same."
St-Gelais and her boyfriend Charles Hamelin became Canada's darlings when a video of St-Gelais wildly cheering him to a gold medal finish in Vancouver and leaping over the barrier to share a kiss became a hit on YouTube.
This time around, the couple have said they will try to contain themselves and share their emotions in private.
"No Vancouver kiss. Nothing like that I am going to hide somewhere," St-Gelais said. "I am too intense. It is so hard to control myself. When I am on the ice, it is easy for me to deal with all my stress but (not) when Charles is on the ice."
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